Brooklyn’s Trash Rides the Rails

The city has taken a new step in environmental management by exporting North Brooklyn’s residential and municipal solid waste by rail instead of by truck, Mayor Bloomberg announced Tuesday.

The trash will be trucked from the Sanitation Department’s existing Varick Avenue I station, which has been redesigned to allow containers to be transferred onto trains. From there, the trash trains will proceed east over the New York and Atlantic’s Bushwick freight line to the Fresh Pond Yard in Queens, where the cars will be transferred to CSX trains heading over the Hell Gate Bridge, then south through to the landfills of Virginia.

The new plan, which adds a maximum of 12 freight cars a day to the New York and Atlantic, is part of the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan.

“By exporting 950 tons of residential and municipal waste per day by rail, we’re eliminating more than 40 long-haul tractor trailer trips each day – or about 13,000 trips per year,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “That’s not only going to help reduce congestion on the borough’s streets and highways, it also will reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and improve the air we breathe – especially in communities that have long been unjustly saddled with handling other people’s waste.”

Residents of Williamsburg, Bushwick and Greenpoint have long complained about parades of trucks clogging the streets of their neighborhoods at all hours, heading for waste processing facilities.

“For too long Community Board 1 has been burdened with a disproportionate amount of the city’s waste and has suffered with truck traffic, deplorable street conditions and high noise and air pollution,” said Councilwoman Diana Reyna. “Waste by rail will assist in alleviating this inconvenience and is a step in the right direction in moving forward with a more environmentally just Solid Waste Management Plan.”

Six days per week, the Varick Avenue I transfer station will receive an average of 950 tons of waste per day from Brooklyn Community Boards 1, 3, 4 and 5. Waste will be loaded into the aforementioned containers, each holding approximately 18 tons. The containers in turn will be loaded onto freight cars.

Paul Victor, president of the New York and Atlantic, says the Bushwick line already handles a variety of freight, from building materials to flour to beer. Most of this freight, however, is inbound, or traveling east from the Bushwick freight terminal. The trash cars, on the other hand, will be outbound.

The Bushwick freight line, which dates to the 19th century, once handled both passengers and freight, but passenger service ended in the 1920s, a victim of competition from subways, trolleys and cars. For a view of the branch, the Forgotten New York web site ( has a page on the line.

The New York and Atlantic leases both the Bushwick line and another Brooklyn freight line, the Bay Ridge line, from the Long Island Railroad.

Source:  Brookyln Daily Eagle


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